The source for this listed it as 1870. I'm not sure how old it is, but there is a reference to Esterbrook giving away another match scratcher in 1881, but it's described differently.
American Stationer, March 3, 1881, page 268
The Esterbrook Steel Pen Company has issued several advertising cards, which serve the double purpose of being useful and of advertising its business. These embrace three designs, two of which are the Falcon Match Scratcher, and Reward of Merit card. They are highly colored and gilt, and represent a miniature "Brother Jonathan" holding a banner, the handle of which is a large steel pen, the banner itself having a small piece fo sand-paper to scratch matches upon. The same design is used for the Reward of Merit card, except that the piece of sandpaper is not upon it, its place being occupied by the words "Reward of Merit."
A "Brother Johnathan" was a character that pre-dated Uncle Same but was often depicted similarly. Brother Johnathan was originally a representation of New England, and eventually all "Yankees". One theory is that when the Know Nothing Party split, it was divided into camps of moderate "Johnathan" and radical "Sams." Brother Johnathan was eventually replaced by Uncle Sam as the main symbol of the US.
The one I am sharing below, looks possibly older, but definitely looks like the same kind of vaguely Japanese design you find on many pen boxes which did often use actual Japanese paper wrapped around the cardboard.
And FYI, Le Count Bros. was a big stationer in San Francisco. Here's a photo of their inside taken by Edward Muybridge (of the famous stop action photos) c. 1865-1879.
Edited by AAAndrew, 20 March 2017 - 16:54.